First-round co-leader Nick Voke coped best with the at times very windy conditions to win the 36 Hole sixth Hills Invitation Pro Am Golf tournament at Sir Michael Hill’s Arrowtown course by two shots.
His rounds of 69, 69. 138 were too consistent for European Tour player Daniel Hillier’s 69, 71. 140. Voke had five birdies and two bogeys in the second round while Hillier scored four birdies and three bogeys. The other first round co leader Luke Brown faded with 75 and finished tied 6th.
After 12 holes Voke and Hillier were tied on 4 under par. However, Voke birdied 13 and 14 so the margin was two shots with four holes to go and Voke left nothing to chance with birdies a difficult ask in the strong winds.
He made sure of par on the last four holes with shots to each green leaving him a comfortable two putts for par and the $10,000 winner’s purse.
Gracious in victory Voke said, “Daniel and I are fortunate that we have been playing tournaments regularly on tour whereas most of you here haven’t played competitive golf for months because of covid.”
For one of the favourites, Queenstowner James Anstiss, this proved true as he battled the conditions finishing 11 shots off the pace. A four over par first round was too big a hurdle.
Defending champion Dongwoo Kang found the hurdle of his first event in many months because of Covid too much of a hurdle with his wayward driver consigning him to a +6 first round. This writer played in his group and despite the difficulties, his excellent demeanour never wavered.
Voke will leave for the USA in January to again play on the PGA Korn Ferry Tour while Hillier goes to Europe to play the Challenge Tour with the full European Tour in his sights.
Three players tied for third on 142. Former winner Harry Bateman, Luke Toomey and Ryan Chisnall all had solid under par second rounds. Chisnall had a miserable start to the first round being +4 after five holes and in a big hole so to speak. However he dug deep, fought hard and three birdies in the last four holes gave him a par 72 and in touch with the leaders.
LPGA Symetra Tour player Amelia Garvey showed her ability with two rounds of 74, 71 for eighth. On the 424 metre par 5 13th she only required a driver and a wedge to reach the green for her birdie.
She heads for the USA in January to play the tour and link up again with coach and former PGA Tour player, Kiwi Grant Waite. The other female invitee Momoka Kobori had a solid first round but struggled on the second day to finish off the pace but nevertheless enjoyed the experience.
All in all this event continues to provide the players a unique experience and a wonderful relaxed family feel. Members thoroughly enjoy and appreciate being able to play in the team event with the professionals.